Kansas City Chiefs tackle Barry Richardson is, according to Pro Football Focus and the eyes of thousands of KC fans across the world, the absolute worst tackle playing football in the NFL today.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ coaching staff, however, seems to think Richardson is just fine.
In a move that will likely keep philosophers busy for decades, the Chiefs decided to up and cut Jared Gaither last week. Other than getting into the game for a couple of multiple tackle sets, goal-line plays and quick injury fill-ins, the Chiefs never put Gaither on the field to take significant snaps at either tackle position.
But more on Gaither later.
For now, it is time someone took the Chiefs to task on Barry Richardson.
How bad is Barry Richardson?
I know he is. I can see it with my eyes. He gets beat time after time after time. But don’t take my word for it. The fine folks at Pro Football Focus watch every player of every snap of every game. They grade each of those snaps with a specially designed rating system. Going above and beyond on a play gets a player a + grade. Doing one’s job on a play but doing nothing extraordinary, earns them a 0.0 grade. Most players are graded at 0.0 on most plays. If a player screws up or gets beat on a play, they might get a – grade. By this system, average players will have grades close to 0.0 over the course of the season. Really good players might be +20.0 and bad ones might be -20.0.
How does Barry Richardson grade?
There are 76 tackles who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps. PFF ranks Barry Richardson #76 with an overall grade of -36.5.
His pass protection grade is -18.9. His run blocking grade is -18.9.
So Barry’s overall ranks of the 76 qualifying tackles is #75 pass protection, #76 in run blocking and #76 overall.
Richardson has given up six sacks, six QB hits and a whopping 32 QB pressures (5th worst in the NFL).
Despite being horrendously bad at his job, Richardson has managed to keep his starting spot at RT. He has never been replaced for poor play. He has played a sickening 815 snaps this season. Every single offensive snap of every game.
Richardson gives up a QB pressure roughly every 13 times his QB drops back to pass. By comparison, one of the NFL’s best RT’s, Brian Bulaga, gives up a pressure every 25 times Aaron Rodgers drops back.
Richardson has struggled so consistently that it is mind-boggling that the Chiefs never even tried to get a look at any of their other tackles. Take a look at Richardson’s PFF grades by week:
Now that we have established that Richardson is the worst starting tackle, both in pass blocking and run blocking, in the NFL, we have to ask why the Chiefs haven’t tried to replace him.
During the beginning of the season I could only figure that as bad as Richardson was, the other guys on the roster were worse. I guessed that Gaither and Maneri were just awful in practice and as a result, Richardson had to play.
Then, just when I thought that Richardson’s play was getting so bad that the Chiefs were sure to give Gaither a look at right tackle, the team cut Gaither. Once that happened I almost felt better about the whole thing. I decided Gaither must be a total bum on the practice field.
Last week, Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Muir talked about Gaither’s release.
“I think basically the situation was pretty clear cut,” Muir said. “Even though technically he was 100 percent healthy, I guess technically, physically I didn’t see that as the offensive line coach/coordinator. I didn’t see the physicalness or the explosiveness he had when he played at Baltimore.”
After kind of saying that he thought Gaither stunk, Muir quickly back-peddled and made sure to throw in that the tackle’s release was all about roster numbers and some sort of secret plan.
“But there were other circumstances involved in it as you manage your roster at this time of year,” Muir said. “So it wasn’t all about, ‘Can he play?’, ‘Can’t he play?’ or ‘Who’s better?’, it was a tactical decision we made.”
Oh, so it wasn’t just about who can actually play football, it was strategy. It was all part of the grand plan.
Players not named Jared Gaither currently on the KC Chiefs active roster:
Am I saying that Gaither is necessarily better than those players?
I’m saying he couldn’t be much worse. I’ve seen all those other guys play. They suck. I promise.
The San Diego Chargers claimed Gaither last week and they started him at LT last night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gaither played pretty well for a guy who joined his teammates on Wednesday. He allowed no pressures and no sacks. He was given a grade of +1.1 from Pro Football Focus. He excelled in pass protection with a +1.8 grade. He got docked a bit run blocking with a -0.1 grade and he was also penalized for one holding call.
Small sample size? Sure.
But chew on this:
Two other players have played LT for the Chargers this season. Marcus McNiell played nine games and Brandyn Dombrowski played the position in four games. McNiell gave up a total of 18 pressures or two per-game played and Dombrowski gave up 17 pressures or 4.25 per-game.
Gaither gave up no pressures Monday night, effectively having the most efficient day pass protecting for Philip Rivers than any LT has all season long.
We’ll find out more about Gaither as year winds down but the fact that he had a better game in one start with the Chargers, with less than a week of practice, than Barry Richardson has had all season long, makes the Chiefs look like absolute bone-heads.
One thing is for sure, after watching Gaither hold his own last night, Todd Haley, Bill Muir and Scott Pioli had better take a long look at their player evaluation skills.
Because chances are, if every other starting tackle in the NFL (including Gaither) is better than Barry Richardson, one of the tackles still on the Chiefs’ roster is as well.